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Poor Border Management Hurting Immigrant Children

children-593313_640-300x200As shelters on both sides of the border are no longer able to accept more migrants, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have been dropping off hundreds of migrant families onto the streets, leaving border communities overwhelmed.

Hundreds of migrants have been coming to the border seeking asylum, many of whom can no longer be housed in immigrant detention centers and have to be released to the streets. One night, last Wednesday, saw the release of 522 migrants with nowhere to go.

Shelters have run out of space and resources to accommodate more migrants. Across the border, Casa del Migrante has stopped admitting migrants due to a lack of resources. Another reason for doing so, they claim, is President Trump’s Christmas announcement that he and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrado have come to an agreement to let asylum seekers wait for entry south of the border. The Mexican President and his Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, deny entering into such an agreement.

“We’re not backtracking since we never agreed to a Third Safe Country scheme and we’ve been very clear we wouldn’t agree to one,” Ebrard’s spokesman, Roberto Velasco, elaborated.

This failure of accommodations has disproportionately affected the welfare of migrant children, with news of the death of an 8-year-old boy causing public outrage over border management. The child was diagnosed with a simple cold and fever and was released after 90 minutes of observation. He returned to the hospital for nausea that night and died hours later, making him the second migrant child to die in U.S. custody in two weeks.

Their stories pushed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to seek out preventative measures, and the agency ordered for every child in its custody to undergo a medical check-up. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced that she will be visiting the border this week to evaluate the medical screenings and conditions at border control stations.

CPB Commissioner Kevin McAleenan announced last Tuesday several changes coming to border management geared toward improving conditions for migrants. These include medical checks on the children – both with families and unaccompanied, focusing care on children under the age of 10. CPB has also asked ICE to improve the transportation of immigrants both to detention centers and after being released.

While these changes are geared towards making detention livable for children, Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the American Civil Liberties Union Border Rights Center, notes, “The fact remains that there is no way to humanely detain children; the agency should seek proven alternatives to detention models to minimize the time any child remains in their custody.”

If you, or a loved one, are affected by this latest immigration development, or need assistance on your immigration case in Texas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices at 512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.